Monday, January 12, 2015

Maple Water Product Review

Some of you may have realised already that I spend a lot of my time on social media. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing? I always see people get suckered into the next biggest hype on supplements or novelty foods. My prediction is the next  biggest thing to hit the market is maple water.

Maple water is a drink that is made from the sap of a maple tree. It is meant to improve hydration and contain a whole range of nutrients including; antioxidants, prebiotics and manganese. Its also conveniently marketed as vegan and gluten free *cough so is water!

It’s meant to improve Thyroid and bone health… and by bone health I assume they mean bone density?

Who would have known that since now the magic powers of maple water have gone undiscovered for so long… just like the miracles of coconut water. I am still waiting for coconut water it to cure the world of all chronic diseases, its been on the market for a good 2-3years it should have taken affect by now right?

 One thing I urge consumers to do is use logic when deciding if something is right for you. There are no magic bullets to health, which means coconut water or maple water in the grand scheme of your whole diet, environment and physical activity patterns is not going to do much.  Some times you pay premium price for things that don’t even work.

The low down on maple water

For starters there hasn’t been any studies to prove any of the health claims made this is mainly due to the fact the product is so new, one wonders how marketers of the product drew to that conclusion in the first place.

In addition to this hydration isn’t a major health concern in normal day-to-day life. Most people get enough water during normal daily eating and drinking patterns, a few coffees and teas per day, salad, soups, milkshakes, water etc. It is unlikely some one would become dehydrated from working in an air-conditioned office.

It’s a little different if you’re into sports or if you work outside in the heat however, this is where hydration becomes more important. If this is the case you will want to be drinking more than a cup worth of maple water per day, more so 2L of water per day to avoid dehydration. If you are concerned about your hydration status take a pee test.

This involves looking at the colour of your urine and matching it to the chart below. If your urine is dark yellow drink more water, if its close to clear then your fine. Electrolytes are also important, if you are a salty sweater, then you may need to drink electrolytes to aid in hydration. For most people this is on the extreme end of things when your either competition in an endurance race in the heat or doing heavy laborious work outside in the heat for more than 3-4hrs, typically I would say males are more at risk.  

Other important point is that if you are eating your recommended 5 serves of veggies and 2 serves of fruit per day I would argue your getting enough nutrients you need.

Do you need to pay $4-5 for over priced flavoured water? In my opinion you’re better off using that money to buy extra veggies or saving for a new pair of sneakers so you can go for a walk. There’s probably more to come with maple water as the marketing train sweeps through and takes social media by storm.  I don't blame you if you want to drink it because it tastes good, I'm known to have the occasional coconut water too. But don't expect magical things to happen with your health, that's just plain old marketing spin. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Camping Credits

I am back from my holiday on the beach and ready to rock! Well not exactly, I’ve come back to reality hitting the ground running. Back to the grind as they say.

I went on a road trip stopping at Port Macquarie to sleep in a tent in the torrential rain. Then two days later we trekked up to Byron Bay to try to sleep in a tent in the boiling heat.

The views where nice, we went to the beach very day for a run and a swim, which is my favourite thing to do on earth.

                                                                      Main beach at Byron Bay

When I arrived back a friend of mine sent this nice article about camping and resetting your body clock. I’ve read about this before too, it is believed that in the modern world where we use electricity and lights when the sun goes down, we are more prone to things just as stress. This is because we are up for longer and our quality of sleep is in affected. This in turn causes higher levels of cortisol production. We know that too much cortisol is not a positive thing either, its thought that it’s a big contributor to lifestyle related conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Our sleep wake cycle is dependent on what we call the circadian rhythm. This cycle is influenced by light and this intern influences certain hormone secretion.  When the sun light drops the body starts to release a hormone called Melatonin, which is a sleeping hormone. When light touches our skin again this is dampened down and we wake up.

                                                              The view from the light house 

With unnatural lighting like lamps, and all the lights in your home this cycle is prolonged. We don’t get a gradual reduction in light at night, slowly increasing our melatonin levels. What usually happens is we turn out the light in our bedroom then try to get to sleep. Which for people who are very light or bad sleepers this can cause major issues with trying to get and stay asleep.

In this study scientists took a group of 8 people camping for a week and measured their body clock and stress hormone levels. Through this experiment they didn’t allow them to use torches or any unnatural sources of light unless it was a campfire.

What they found is that natural light improved everyone’s internal circadian body clock. This resulted in less cortisol stress hormone.

When they compared the groups normal average light exposure when they were back home from camping, on average people had four times the amount of light exposure than when they went camping. This was due to unnatural lighting, TVs and computer screens.

They even found this in a group of hospital patients, in another study they measured the sound and light levels in the hospital ward. They found that higher sound levels impacted. In addition to if some ones bed was close to the window exposed to more natural light for longer periods of time during day light savings. The more light some one was exposed too and of course the noisier the room was people slept less.

                                                       The wall through maze at the local winery

These results are very interesting, camping could be good for your health.  Not only to relax being on holiday but also to reset your body clock getting it inline with the proper sleep and wake times according to the natural sun light.

You could even translate this into the home environment by having tighter control on your sleep routine and use of light at home.

                                                               Camp food: salad with halumi cheese

I can’t say I felt this way during my camping trip though. It was very relaxing during the day but with the amount of drunk screaming people in the mind of the night it was difficult to sleep at all.  At the communal camp site, there were people obviously drinking to celebrate the fact that they were on holidays, but screaming at each other or having loud brawls was very inconsiderate.

As you can imagine it was very difficult to sleep and equally difficult to try to sleep in at the start of a 40 degree day!

                                                     Picked organic strawberries at a local farm 

So like anything, I guess this type of stuff can be affected by circumstance. But let me give you some tips to improve your sleep:

  •      Dim all lights in the house at least 1 hr prior to bed time
  •      Where light loose fitting clothing to bed
  •      Try to stop eating 1 hr prior to bed
  •       Do not go camping in a caravan park over New Years, you’re bound to get drunks causing a ruckus. Go to a national park instead!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Do You Know What A Serve Is?

This whole saga between self appointed health guru’s and dietitians about the Dietary Guidelines has really got me very angry. Some make claim that the Australian Dietary Guidelines are the cause of obesity and ill health in this country.  They also claim that the Dietary Guidelines encourages people to eat a diet full of processed grains and sugars. This is so far from the truth it hurts.

If you have been lead to believe the above, I urge you to read the guidelines for yourself here.  

They are in fact based on scientific evidence collated from across the world you can see just a snippet of the references here. Granted you can only view 1128 references of the 50,000 used it's still a good number to sift through. That PDF document also clearly details on how they reached the current recommendations and implications to your health. Pretty neat huh?

Let me also explain another crucial point to this whole debate as well. People blame grains for ill health, YET it has been shown that Australia has one of the lowest percent intake of carbohydrates compared to other parts of the world. Click on the picture for the website reference. 

Keep in mind despite our lower carb intake we are one of the fattest countries on the planet. 

Ok and to back this up even more, it is a theory that due to the poor fibre intakes in Australia, bowel cancer rates are quite high compared to other parts of the world. 

Most people don’t meet their recommended 25-30g per day.  We know that apart from veggies and fruit, grains and legumes also provide a good source of fibre. All of which are easily attainable and cheap for every day people to use. View bowel cancer stats here

In addition to this,  numerous times studies have shown that whole grains can be very beneficial to health and aid in risk reduction to different health conditions.  Here’s a huge study done collating different info from across the globe. 

Now that you have some of the basic myth’s busted, lets continue with something a little more interesting shall we?

This week on Facebook I did a strange social experiment. I posted a simplistic photo of the general foods I eat daily and asked everyone how many serves of each food group did my meals contain according to the dietary guidelines.  Even though I posted exact measurements and descriptions I got a wide variety of answers.

Some people commented that a serving size of a particular food is dependent on my activity levels. Which again is so far from the truth. 

Serving sizes do not change according to the person. However how many serves you are allocated is dependent on your age, gender and physical activity levels. Most people who are over weight in my clinical experience serve extremely large portions of carbs at every meal. Which is very different to the volumes recommended in the Dietary Guidelines. 

Generally speaking a lot of people exceed the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines when it comes to serving size. Thanks to restaurant meals, takeaway and trendy larger plates, there is mega portion distortion when it comes to eating.

In addition to this I agree that people eat too many carbs, but they are certainly not eating whole grains like they are supposed to. Discretionary foods and highly processed things like; cocopops, white flour pancakes, muesli bars, muffins, biscuits etc are not counted as “whole food serves”. They are discretionary foods that are meant to be limited.

Before you say it, NO the Dietary Guidelines do not tell you to eat discretionary foods. Notice the words “some times include” IF you are active AND “minimise” if your trying to lose weight.  My interpretation of that is: If you're active and want a treat on the occasional basis thats ok, however if you're keen to lose weight don't eat them. See those English comprehension skills right there?

People ‘think’ they are “eating according to the dietary guidelines and gaining weight”, let me a sure you that what you ‘think’ you're doing, is certainly not what you're supposed to be doing. 

And in my experience on the #blockedbypete Facebook page speaks for itself, people don’t know what a serve is and certainly don’t know how to adapt the recommendations to their individual needs.

Here is an example of some typical meals for a day for me and the serving sizes included. Granted my meals aren't this simplistic. I add things like olives, avocado, vinegar or olive oil dressing, some times sweet chilli sauce. But it was a great way to highlight that in fact the Dietary Guidelines is just healthy eating with no fancy labels. You can also call my meals "clean eating" OR "Flexitarian" OR "Low fat" OR "IIFYM" OR "Flexible dieting" OR whatever floats your boat, it's all the same! It's just healthy eating according to your needs. 

Raisin toast with banana smoothie (usually add 1 tsp butter + 1 tsp stevia) 
2 slices of thin raisin toast = 2 wholegrain serves
1 banana = 1 fruit serve
1 cup skim milk = 1 dairy serve

Tuna & salad wrap, mango on the side (usually add sweet chilli sauce & olives)
1 cup salad = 1 serve of veg
95g tin olive oil tuna = 1 protein serve
1 sml mango =  1 serve of fruit 
2 mountain bread rye wraps = 1 serve 

Hot meal chicken with rice and salad (I add sweet chilli, avocado & olives)
1/2 cup basmati rice = 1 wholegrain serve
1.5 cups salad = 1.5 veg serve 
150g chicken = 1.5 serves protein 

For my main meals (excluding snacks) this is approximately the number of serves per category;
4 carbohydrate wholegrain 
2 fruit serves
1 dairy
2.5 serves of veg
2.5 protein
0 discretionary foods 

How do my meals fair according to the Guidelines? As you can see it's not that much food if you follow the Guidelines correctly. Add in my usual yogurt with nuts, and Vita wheat crackers in between I've hit my whole grain serves, however and I'm way off my veggie serves. 

So don't let anyone argue with you, that the Dietary Guidelines made them fat. We know from the last national nutrition survey people don't follow the Guidelines, only 8% of people eat the recommended servings of veg and only 48% eat enough fruit. Judging from the line up at Mc Donald's and KFC  my guess is that people are probably also eating way too many discretionary foods, not wholegrain carbs. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Years Unplugged

The year is drawing to a close, all I can say is thank you god! It has been a hectic month trying to finalise everything from media jobs to clients wanting to get themselves sorted before they go away on holidays.

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to start the New Year with a fresh start and not have the over hanging work lingering. It’s a motto of mine to use time off affectively and why not use days off to get rid of it all?

This is the point where I am supposed to tell you to set New Years resolutions blah blah and goal set. I will spare you the pep talk. If you want a verbal pep talk listen to my latest podcast here.  

Oh yeah I forgot to tell everyone I am now podcasting too. It was one of the biggest projects I wanted to take on board before the years end. If you want more podcasts to listen to on your road trip these holidays, you can find more on Itunes, and don’t forget to write a review and rate my show! The more you rate me the higher my show ranking, the more people I can help!

To wrap up the year I wanted to go through some key learning’s I’ve had and what I want to pledge to do next year.

The biggest thing I learnt this year is that the internet is a nasty place. I know so depressing! This year in the field of nutrition it has been a complete food fight, but not from people you would expect. There’s a lot of people who care way too much about proving that health professionals are wrong and their fad diet rules.
So much so insults, name calling across all social media platforms from crusaders wanting to “change the world” by abusing people with words.

Personally I care about nutrition and diets because it’s my job. I get paid to do this I have clients relying on my knowledge to help them overcome illness and sports performance. My whole life has been geared toward this from when I was a teenager.

What I don’t understand is everyone’s vested interest in everyone else’s diet? Especially when it’s not your profession and you have no interest in actually helping people. Can’t help to think all this preoccupation with food facts, isn’t psychologically healthy. Especially when it’s done in such a negative manner.

The consolation I get from this whole internet saga is that most people haven’t heard about the fads and they don’t care. In the real world, people who want help see a medical professional, they see dietitian's. I know that in my line of work I genuinely help people and some times these clients become my friends. If I can make some ones life easier, and stress free when it comes to diet and exercise aliments I am a happy person. That’s what validates what I do.

So far so good, my panel of 400+ clients a month are doing just great. AND that makes me happy. I guess in the end at least that’s one positive thing I learnt this year, my happiness and work satisfaction is highly dependant on how much my impact can work positively in some ones life and also how much their positive stories impact on me.

Second to that I did want to make a pledge too, after my half iron man is over in February. I want to take a more holistic look at my training and life. I do want to finally find a happy medium than always pushing on the extreme end of competition. I always wondered what life would be like with an entire afternoon during the week minus the exercise?

Not saying I’m going to give up exercise all together, that is NEVER going to happen! More so I am looking for a little bit more enjoyment in training and potentially making time for other hobbies.

So it’s time to bid you farewell into the New Years, its time to reflect, rejoice and unwind.I will be spending the next 9 days including New Years night, unplugged! Yes Wifi free, in a tent on the beach. Camping eat your heart out!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Paleo Vs The Australian Guidelines To Healthy Eating

Here's a basic chart on the differences between the Australian guide to healthy eating which provides flexibility and gives guidance on individual needs compared to the latest Paleo fad. As you can see they both promote the consumption of veggies, fruit and lean meats. 

Both suggest limitation on "fun" foods. The difference is the Australian guidelines is not restrictive, as it includes food groups dairy and wholegrains, which provide beneficial nutrients. 

The guidelines recognise that people have different requirements to suit varying ethical standpoints and energy needs. The Paleo diet is filled with unsubstantiated claims which can cause food fear. 

Happy reading! 

Food group
Australian dietary guidelines  (ADG)
Paleo Edit: According to Pete Evans
Benefits of food group
Fruit (all types)
1-2 serves of fruit per day. However serves can be adjusted according to energy needs
Similar to fruit is limited to 1-2 serves or lower sugar fruits only berries in some LCHF followers
Nutrient dense (vitamins, minerals) Fructose in fruit has not been shown to cause disease. In fact has the opposite affect of being health protective. Not to mention fibre for bowel health
Vegetables (green & coloured)
5+ serves per day, all types eat a wide variety
Veggies health protective, however not enough fibre to protect against constipation in at risk groups
Lean meats & vegetarian alternatives (legumes, tofu, red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds)
2-3 serves according to age and energy requirements
Unlimited amounts of grass fed animal proteins, no consideration for environmental sustainability or animal cruelty for those who are interested in taking this ethical stance
Excessive consumption of red meat has been linked on numerous occasions to bowel and heart concerns. Legumes provide high levels of fibre (pre biotic). Veggo  alternatives are more environmentally sustainable than meat consumption
Diary (yogurt, cheese, milk)
2-3 serves  (1500mg ca+ daily ) according to age and energy requirements
Restrictive - Not allowed at all claims will give you T2 diabetes, cancer, autism etc  (no evidence to support this)
Provides low grade  calcium alternatives as replacements unlikely to meet RDI's kale, almonds etc .
Contributes to calcium and potassium intake used for muscle contraction, bone & teeth health. Cheap way to provide protein to growing bodies, whey protein has been shown numerous times to provide a positive performance enhancement in power lifting sports
Wholegrains (whole wheat, quinoa, oat, corn, rice, rye spelt)
3-9 serves according to age and energy requirements
Restrictive - Not allowed at all claims will give you T2 diabetes, cancer, autism etc  (no evidence to support this)

Provides energy to fuel movement. High levels of fibre for good bowel health. Source of nutrients not found in large amounts in other food group: B-vitamins folate, magnesium, vit E.  Particularly great for growing bodies (athletes & children). Cheap to feed large volumes of people. Part of traditional cultural cuisines. Has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, lower rates of bowel cancer, improve health outcomes such as heart disease.
Discretionary foods (chips, lollies, biscuits, alcohol, chocolate, takeaway)
Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, sugar and excessive sodium, alcohol
Restrictive - Not allowed at all claims will give you T2 diabetes, cancer, autism etc  (no evidence to support this)
Plays a part in food enjoyment.  Energy dense for those malnourished, underweight to add energy to diet keeping volume of food low.

For links to evidence to support grains and dairy consumption click on the links;

Australian guidelines serve recommendations: 

Whole grains & health: 

Dairy consumption health & sport: 

Fruit does not cause obesity:

Vegetarian & vegan diets associated with better health 

*RDI's = recommended daily intakes for good health